Department of Public Administration

Why Public Administration?

Our students make a difference!

The Public Administration Department resides in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government and is both locally and nationally recognized as having one of the top Public Affairs graduate programs in the United States.The Hatfield School is part of a century-long Oregonian tradition of good governance and leadership that has led the nation in areas of land use planning, natural resource planning, and voting reform.

Our students all share:

  • A belief that public institutions – government agencies, nonprofits, grassroots and community organizations, and social enterprises – can be effective and innovative.
  • An interest in working across sectors and disciplines to develop creative, collaborative solutions to public sector challenges.
  • A desire to make a difference in local and global communities.
photo of students talking outside on PSU campus

Apply Now!

Applications for graduate programs and certificates must be submitted through the Graduate School.
Details specific to the Department of Public Administration can be found on our program pages. 


Program Accreditation

Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)

NASPAA is the membership association of graduate programs in public administration, public policy, and public affairs. NASPAA’s Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation is the specialized accreditor of these master degree programs. NASPAA’s twofold mission is to ensure excellence in education and training for public service and to promote the ideal of public service.

The MPA, MPA:HA, and EMPA are NASPAA accredited degree programs.

MPA and MPA:HA accredited through 2019-2020
NASPAA Self-Study Report 2012

EMPA accreditation through 2019-2020
NASPAA Self-Study Report 2012


Vision, Mission and Values

Vision Statement

The Department of Public Administration’s vision is to be an agent of change to develop and enhance public leadership through education, scholarship and service. Building upon Portland State University’s commitment to community-engaged scholarship and service, the Department of Public Administration is uniquely placed to prepare current and emergent leaders in local, regional, national and global communities.

We recognize that solutions to contemporary problems require innovative approaches and alliances among governments, nonprofits and businesses, and encourage our faculty and students to engage in multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches to advance the public interest.

We aim to contribute to the integrity, effectiveness, and transparency of the next generation of trusted public leaders.

Mission Statement

The Department of Public Administration at Portland State University is dedicated to preparing individuals for ethical, competent and effective public service in a range of roles in policy, management and leadership. We seek to improve practice by facilitating learning through community engagement, promoting scholarship, and encouraging reflection as we develop and work with leaders representing diverse communities across all domains of public service.

Value and Belief Statements

We recognize that public service professionals work within a complex set of constitutional, institutional, socio-cultural, and legal structures. We believe that they must understand the ways in which economic and political interdependence, both global and domestic, shape the exercise of administrative leadership and management. Our collective efforts support the educational and professional preparation of public service professionals and new scholars.

Based on this recognition, we are guided by the following values which encompass our commitment to integrated, rigorous and relevant teaching, learning, and scholarship, all geared toward the sustainability of our increasingly diverse and rich communities:

  • We believe that the integration of theory and practice is essential for successful management and leadership in public, nonprofit and health organizations, and that reflective practice enhances this integration.
  • We believe that a public service education that integrates ethics and experience is essential to our society.
  • We seek to model in ourselves and develop in our students values of public service and provide mechanisms through which students can explore potential roles for engaging the public in their work.
  • We are committed to addressing the life-long learning needs of our graduates and career public service professionals.
  • We value scholarship that is both rigorous and relevant.
  • We value Portland State University's commitment to community-engaged teaching and scholarship.
  • We are committed to collaborating with public and nonprofit organizations and communities to create rich learning experiences that both assist the community and prepare graduates for productive public service careers.
  • We believe that public service professionals must understand the ways in which a multiplicity of interests help to shape, and in turn are shaped by, the underlying values of our systems of democratic governance.
  • We believe that understanding the dynamic social relationships in diverse and global communities is essential for public service leaders and managers.

Competencies for Masters Program Graduates

Students in the MPA, MPA-HA, EMPA and MPH:HMP programs will master the following competencies by graduation, as evident through their demonstrated ability to: 

1. Articulate and exemplify the ethics, values, responsibilities, obligations and social roles of a member of the public service profession.

2. Identify and apply relevant theories and frameworks to the practice of public service leadership, management and policy.*

3. Respond to and engage collaboratively with diverse local and global cultures and communities to address challenges in the public interest.

4. Identify and engage with the key elements of the public policy process.

5. Employ appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques to investigate, monitor and manage resource use.**

6. Create and manage systems and processes to assess and improve organizational performance.

7. Conceptualize, analyze, and develop creative and collaborative solutions to challenges in public service leadership, management and policy.

8. Assess challenges and explore solutions to advance cross-sectoral and inter-jurisdictional cooperation in public programs and services.

9.  Demonstrate verbal and written communication skills as a professional and through interpersonal interactions in groups and in society.

10. Think critically and self-reflectively about emerging issues concerning public service leadership, management and policy.

Approved by the Faculty, January 3, 2011; Revised by the Faculty March 7, 2011; Further revision by the Faculty October 10, 2011

*Theories and frameworks could include economic, financial, legal, organizational, political, social, and/or ethical approaches.
**Resource use could include human, fiscal, technologic, information, physical, and/or other resources.